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Advertising Effects on Children

Updated on April 12, 2014


Alex enjoying a giant birthday sudae
Alex enjoying a giant birthday sudae | Source

Effects of advertising to children

I was shocked after reading an article that discussed the possible negative effects and uses of advertising along with psychologist to help companies reach their young clients more effectively. Allan D. Kanner, PhD is adamantly against the use of psychologist to help in marketing to children. He calls it a “narcissistic” wounding of children”. His protest against this practice in the form of a letter from him and 59 other psychologists to the American Psychological Association (APA) has lead to a task force being set up to study the effects of advertising to children and their families.

Kanner’s letter caught the attention of Commercial Alert, a Washington D.C. based organization with a mission to control excessive commercialism and exploration of children. Commercial Alert's goal is to protect and propagate positive societal values as a whole. The APA acknowledges the importance of studying the psychological effects of advertising to children and is conducting studies on the possible positive and negative effects as well.

Commercial Alert’s is decidedly against the use of psychologist in order to reach inside the minds of young children for prophet. Their demands to the APA included public denouncement of the use of psychological principles in marketing to children, to change their ethics codes, and hold continuous psychological research studies on the ethics and effects of marketing to children then publish the results.

Two Sides To Every Story

There is the other side of this issue, as the APA recognizes. Take Whiten S. Pain, PhD, assistant professor of business studies at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, NJ who does support establishing standards to be used to protect children, but unlike Kanner, he does not want psychologist removed completely from the marketing process. He feels that psychologist play an important role as to the sensitivity of marketing to children. This can be a crucial piece of this puzzle. The problem is how do we ensure that these corporations will not misuse the information that they gain from their psychological studies on children?

If psychologists have been found to be using their knowledge about children in an unethical way and in order to manipulate children and their parents there should be some repercussions. I agree with Pain in the fact that psychologist do play an important role in marketing to children. Without them we would be left with people who are ignorant to the effect advertising and marketing may have on a child.

No advertising overload in nature

Teach your children to enjoy nature not things
Teach your children to enjoy nature not things | Source

What do you think?

Do you think society is being coerced into consumerism by big corporations?

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Consumerism is rampant in society today. Children are exposed to advertising everywhere they go. At school the children are running around the playground with the newest style of clothes that include a huge label stating the designer name or insignia. They hear discussions about their newest toy or game. Even traveling in the car with their parent, listening to the radio or watching dad sip out of Starbucks cup has an effect on a child.

It is possible to teach your children by example and/or speech what kind of value they should put on material things. They will follow your lead as a parent or role model. We can regulate what value, to a major degree, our children place on material things being marketed on TV, radio, at school, etc. We can shut the television and electronics off, show them the value of; playing outside, using their imagination and how to feel good about themselves by scaling who they are, not what they have. The lesson ultimately begins with our behavior as adults. We should be aware that we are absolute role models to the children in our lives. Check your own consumerist qualities and consider what type of role model you are being.

The original article posted on the APA website is some years old, but it brings up an important issue, still alive today. We, as a society, and not only parents, need to protect ourselves and children from the "media monsters". I am not a purist and I certainly don't live in a cave away from all sorts of advertising. I do feel very strongly about the importance of maintaining a balance of consumerism and realism. Our children deserve to know that their material things do not define who they are and how to relate to the world on a very basic level.


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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree with you, Kimberly. I recently wrote a hub about gifts for tweens and when I began the hub and researched it I was astounded at the amount of money that parents are reported as spending, not to mention the tween.

      Good write up-I never even considered the narcisstic wounding consequence!


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